Multimedia artist Peter Svarzbein grew up in El Paso, Texas, an American border city with strong cultural and economic bonds to its sister city, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. In recent years, these bonds have frayed due to Mexican drug cartel violence and American anti-immigrant sentiment. Learning that a trolley had run daily between El Paso and Juarez from 1902 to 1974, Svarzbein launched a fictitious advertising campaign for a new trolley to bring the cities together again. To his surprise, the idea for an inter-city trolley has gained some political traction, and the campaign, no longer fictitious, continues with the city of El Paso recently awarded 97 million dollars for a vintage streetcar line to ride again using these refurbished international riding PCC Streetcars. for more info http://www.elpasotransnationaltrolley.tumblr.com
“What is the essence of your life as a border artist?”
“The essence of a border artist is to wake up in a world every day that is in flux, in radiant negotiation, with itself and the rules countries place on themselves. Border crossing defines us a community. The same way jazz is New Orleans or New York has the Yankees. El Paso has Juarez and Juarez has El Paso and from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor we all have different reasons for wanting to cross.”
Love the pictures of that old streetcar. That thing freaked me out for years when I landed in El Paso. Were you able to just drive up to it, or did you need permission?
sorry for the late response!! The cars are not there anymore, they are being repaired as we speak and will be put back into service, but ‘only’ to the US side of the border, not crossing it. And yes, we needed permission back then 🙂